My roommate and I just recently finished playing Tales of Symphonia. There were some flaws to the game, but overall, it was an enjoyable experience. We’re chalking the flaws up to the fact that it’s a 10 yr old game and maybe they didn’t know what they were doing a bit? Or possibly there were some errors in porting it over from the Gamecube to PS3. In any case, the remaster was pretty. Though I’d like to let everyone know that I most definitely played this game last, even though it was one of the first, and thus I am comparing it to the other, more recent, games I’ve played.
At the beginning of the game I could not figure out what was going on. I think this was in part because the game just started out without explaining anything about the world. However, I think this was a good choice on their part, as this made the plot twists better. Without the extremely original world, I would have been bored by the cliche plot bits. Not that the entire plot was cliche, just some major parts of it due to trope trends and and because I’d played other Tales Of* games and could see the things that they liked to reuse. One being the “Traitor” type. But they handled it much better in this game than in Xillia. I could forgive him after he did his thing in Symphonia, but in Xillia, the Traitor repeatedly did awful, and sometimes painful, things to the party and they still let him back in and trusted him again. That bothered me a lot. However, I’m not reviewing Xillia at the moment.
Another thing they reuse is spells, battle techniques, and the like. I wish they had reused free movement in battle, rather than only allowing straight-line movement. It would have been nice if they had updated that in this port over. Also titles, though here they actually raise stats as opposed to being merely decorative in later games. This, I think is fine, Final Fantasy reuses spells and if something works, don’t fix it, especially in a series like this. These days its difficult to find things that haven’t already been done before and the use of tropes sometimes helps an audience get past stuff that would otherwise be confusing, such as the role of Elves, half-elves, and humans in this world. Though they never explained where dwarves came from, which I think is a slight oversight on the part of the writers.
While I’m on the fence about whether it was good or bad, I think the character personalities were weighted a little heavily on the Derp side. Colette, Lloyd, Zelos, and Sheena were morons about 70% of the time, even though occasionally Lloyd would pull something brilliant out of the mists of that empty head of his. I didn’t really have any favorites exactly, I did like the way certain personalities complemented each other. Although certain costumes bothered me immensely, mostly Regal’s prison uniform, but that’s just nitpicking on my part. They worked together well as a party that got things done, whereas in other games, I’ve seen the party pulling apart at the seams, held together by the fact that the writers said they had to do the thing. So that gets an A+ from me. It’s hard to enjoy a game where the constant bickering and cross-purposes of the main cast are difficult to get past, like they have a common enemy but they’re still doing their own thing.
I’ll only touch on this briefly, though it is one of the most noticeable flaws of the game; the voice acting was good, I enjoyed their performances, but the actual recording of the voices could have been improved upon. Recording or mixing, something is off because some voices sound like the actors phoned in their lines.
Some of the things the game did right, however was breaking stereotype gender roles, which I’ve noticed as being a thing in many Tales Of* games, however. Raine was the brains and Regal sometimes made comments about how awesome women were, which was nice to see despite Zelos being a sleaze and Sheena being the representative of Enormous Rackville. The thing is, Zelos’s attitude wasn’t reciprocated or agreed with by all the females of the party and Sheena was never appreciative of Zelos pointing out her ample attributes (though they’re small compared to girls in anime these days, but again, this was 10 years ago). Prescea was one of the heavy hitters with an axe, and I think that was cool. Genis and Raine were our spell casters, though, which made some sense, even if they made Raine the healer, which is typical, but forgivable.
The main hero wasn’t what I was expecting, but that’s been every Tales Of* game I’ve played. In this particular case, Lloyd was as big an idiot as they got, even though he was using the typical Main Character weapon of dual swords and starting Arte of Demon Fang.
Some of the cliche things that I picked up on from the start of the game were that the Regeneration of the World was not as great and happy a journey as it was implied it would be at the start. Of course, would there be a quest if the World Regeneration was awesome and stuff? But beyond that, it seems like everyone is corrupting Angels into evil creatures, and the “Luke I am your father” bit with Lloyd I saw coming only a couple hours into the game. Although it wasn’t a bad thing and a couple of the twists _did_ surprise me, such as the relationship between the Angels, Renegades, Desians, and church as well as the construction of the world itself. The relationships of the party members, their interactions, and the romance/bromance options were highly enjoyable as well.
Overall, I give this game a 5/5 stars rating. While it’s an old one, it’s held up pretty well and thus if you haven’t had a chance to play it, I highly suggest trying it out.